The problem of cardiac arrest plagues hospitals throughout the country. It has been estimated that there are 10,000 cases a year in the United States.1 Efforts are being made in many hospitals to reduce the incidence and to increase the survival rate by stressing methods of prevention and therapy; nevertheless, the mortality rate of cardiac arrest remains about 70%.2
Survival depends on whether the heart can be restarted and whether death from cerebral anoxia can be avoided. The two prime factors in survival, therefore, are speedy diagnosis and skillful treatment. It is interesting to speculate what the survival rate might be if therapy were perfectly handled.
It has been shown that hearts of dead animals and humans can be restarted as long as six hours after death.3 Since approximately 50% of cases of cardiac arrest occur in persons with "normal" hearts, it would seem, therefore, that these